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Old 02-14-2012, 09:09 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Heating Efficiency vs. Cost

I ran into this comment: "The Grid is inherently more efficient/clean, but there's a point where the balance tips to favor Natural Gas-" The author is confusing efficiency with cost. The "grid" may be efficient, but the machinery that puts electricity into it grid is not. For making clean heat, there is no substitute for Natural Gas or Nuclear. A gas furnace can run in the 90%+ efficiency range. A power plant turns gas into electricity at 40% efficiency or less. "Electicity is more efficient" but it costs more because the gas to electricity conversion process is inefficient.

The "clean" observation is similarly flawed. The emissions are simply moved to the power plant. They don't go away. Hopefully, the power plant does a better job controlling emissions, but a fair comparison is that they have to burn twice as much gas to convert the energy from gas heat to electricity so that we can "efficiently" turn it back to heat.

Cost comparison is the only relevant basis, because it looks at overall conversion efficiency.
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